Do you agree that violent crime will increase when drinking laws are relaxed?
Plans to relax licensing laws in England and Wales will lead to a sharp increase in violent crime, rapes and serious assaults, senior judges have warned.
The government says varying opening times will stop drinkers from heading home at the same time.
Police chiefs have also voiced concern, saying that the new legislation due to start in November, will lead to a holiday-resort drinking culture.
Do you think the laws will be a recipe for more violence? Or will drinkers heading for home at different times curb bad behaviour? Will it create a more continental drinking culture?
This page is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
Isn't it about time we introduced a drinking licence which if suspended would prevent access to alcohol. It would also help if the bar selling alcohol to someone involved in alcohol-related crime would have their licence suspended. Problem solved.
If we are to have 24 hour opening of pubs will we have 24 hour bus services and 24 hour train services to get people home? Will we have the whole 24 hour culture that other countries have? If I leave a pub at three in the morning will I be able to stop by a cafe for coffee and doughnuts like I do in the USA? Or will I end up queuing for one of a limited number of taxis - a common source of frustration and violence? 24 hour opening will work, but not without developing a 24 hour infrastructure behind it.
David, Evesham, UK
I doubt this change to the law will immediately result in the catastrophic levels of anarchy and drink fuelled violence that the doomsayers are predicting. I would think that for a short while things will get slightly worse as people just drink more all day, however in the long run people will get used to the new laws and the drinking environment in the UK will become more relaxed.
Stephen Mortimer, Reading, UK
I agree that we should have more late night alternatives to venues selling alcohol. As a virtual teetoller who is able to enjoy herself without alcohol, and indeed finds the environment of pubs alien, some late night cafes where I could sip coffee, listen to some jazz, etc would be wonderful. We seem so uncivilised in this respect compared to other countries.
K Eastwell, Ipswich, UK
Drink does not cause violence. Thugs cause violence. Most of us can drink and not cause a problem.
Nigel Perry, Bristol, UK
I yearn for nice quiet pubs, where you can drink good beer and chat with friends until you are ready to go home, such as those I enjoyed when I lived in Brussels. There, it seems like pubs never close. You can have an enjoyable evening and not worry about watching the clock. With pubs open all night, people can just go home when they get tired.
The new laws for 24 hour drinking will lead to an increase in violence and law breaking. Tony Blair states that binge drinking will reduce due longer drink time. I think he thinks that people will spread their drinks over a longer time period. I disagree with this and feel people will drink more and over a longer period, leading to drunken behaviour which will result in an increase in violence and possibly criminal damage.
Ryan Newell, Southampton
Most young people who go out drinking have a limit of £30-50 to spend, if they have a longer period of time to spend it then they are unlikely to be so drunk, that's providing these silly 'drink all you can for £10' deals end.
Graham (age 20), London, UK
My road in central London is 'on curfew' after 10.30 pm on weekends thanks to a laptop dancing club and a proposed casino next to it requesting a liquor licensing permission now to...3 am. The local residents have volumes of objection files to no avail. I sincerely wish that a Cabinet Minister or a Member of the Lords lived right here, next door, and then opine.
E J Poularas, London W1
I was a student in Newcastle and moved to Edinburgh 15 years ago. The difference in the city centre on a weekend was remarkable. In England, everybody was thrown onto the street at the same (early) time, after madly consuming the last 3 pints in 30 minutes, with all the mayhem that resulted.
In Edinburgh, where licensing hours have been and are so much more relaxed, people tend to have a good square meal in them before going out later; drink slower because they can; and leave at a time that suits them, not the law. Result - yes a few people who have had a few too many, but generally, a city centre with people quietly making their way home... and not at the same time.
Keith, Edinburgh, Scotland
This is not a nanny state and people should be treated as adults, which the vast, vast majority are. As a student I will say the new laws will also go a long way to getting rid of the 10-11 'power hour' and throwing drunk people on the street all at the same time. The old licensing hours are draconian and most sensible people will realise that abuse is by a tiny minority. Why should we give in to them?
Richard, Birmingham, England
I disagree strongly with the new drink laws. Police resources will be unnecessarily stretched as will those of hospital departments. Seems the law abiding citizens' needs and rights come second to the rowdy drinkers
Judith Park, Windermere England
I would think the number of pubs that would open for 24 hours would be very small, the revenue would hardly make it worth the staff costs and other overheads. That said, I believe that landlords and managers should play a more active role in restricting customers who are obviously drinking to excess.
Dave, Bridgwater, UK
Do the legislators go drinking in bars outside of Tuscany? The reality of bar drinking round my way is vomit and violence - 'tis the drowning of reason and the coarsening of the soul.
Strict licensing laws are essential to protect society against those socially irresponsible drinkers who want to 'cram as many pints in as they can before closing'. Giving such people a longer period over which to drink means that they will simply drink more. For many reasons, not least of all a different cultural attitude towards alcohol, what works on the continent will not work here. This will be a disaster.
Daniel, London, UK
The police are already run ragged dealing with drink fuelled crime and antisocial behaviour. Our town and city centres are dangerous places to visit on weekend evenings. These licensing changes are taking place with no regard to tackling the culture of heavy drinking prevalent among our young people. Suggesting that allowing drinking for longer periods will make things better is a utopian fantasy.
Chris James, Bristol, UK
I am in favour of the new legislation and can see that there will be a period of adjustment where a minority choose to drink excessively still, but things will change over time. Wouldn't it make sense for the government to introduce an Australian style Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate? Bar staff can only serve alcohol in certain Australian states if they have this certificate, which shows they know how to deal with people who are obviously drunk (not serve them!) and their responsibilities with regards to the law.
A J Morell, Bristol
It is not the drinks that make people violent. Consider that countries as Greece and Spain that have more alcohol consumption the rates of violence is much more smaller than British. There are other factors that must be considered such as family, education and society
Adamantios Floros, Brighton
I live in the 'pub run'vbetween the housing estates and the pubs on the seafront. People are just drinking more and for longer. I would gladly have Mr. Blair here to witness the vandalism in our street caused by people intoxicated with a drug that makes them aggressive and uninhibited. There's nothing sensible or responsible about it.
Charlie Shields, Torquay, UK
The judges are a bunch of grudging old men that would resist any change in this country. Yes, the existing opening hours are ludicrously strict, thank heavens that they finally will change into something a civilised nation deserves. And yes, binge drinking is an immature culture we should get rid of. It's pathetic to say we can't or shouldn't try to achieve both.
A, London, UK
When I came to Britain to study I was surprised to see that most of my British friends didn't even know that regular binge drinking could cause a physical addiction. Most students just saw it as fun and the thing to do in the evening. Consequently, British pubs are completely geared to offering alcohol; there are no alternatives like cafes or ice cream shops.
Rena, Neumarkt, Germany
I agree with extending hours. Why should the majority of us who enjoy responsible drinking be limited by those who don't know when to stop? Surely the response should be to require landlords to refuse service to customers who have drunk too much. I do think that staggering pub closing times will assist the problem that occurs at present with a surplus of young men (in partcular) on the streets at 11pm, who aren't yet ready to go home.
David, London, UK
I moved to the USA from England 5 years ago and I have never seen any violence caused by drnking over here, which I think is due to longer drinking hours and a different mentality towards drinking. At the moment in England everyone gets kicked out at 11.20pm so you have a lot of drunken people on the street at the same time that's when violence occurs.
Dave, Cincinnati, USA
Pubs are open here all the time and alcohol is easily available, but you'll never see hordes of drunken people like in Britain, although our beers are much stronger. That kind of behaviour is unacceptable on the continent, it's a matter of education. Responsible drinking is a value here.
Stone, Ypres, Belgium
Drinking is for fools anyways, its a mass myth that it makes one sociable, all it does is lower your standards. Sobriety is far more challenging and rewarding .... I guess like cigarettes alcohol generates a large tax revenue .. people have no idea how boring they actually are when drunk ... get healthy and sharp I suggest ..
Isn't the factor which really determines how much you can drink (and therefore how long), is how much money you can spend. As far as I am aware we are not all receiving pay rises when (and if...) the pubs can (if they so choose) open 24hrs a day. If you have the same amount of money to spend over a longer period, how can that be a bad thing? Drinking quickly would be a thing of the past, this is what we need to remove from British drinking culture.
Fin, Alton, UK
Personally I agree with the extension of opening hours, it will reduce the intensity of the flashpoint obvious around closing time. However I think this debate has been poorly represented in the media (even the BBC). How many times have news reports interviewed scientists and politicians on the negatives and allowed the opposing argument to be made by four drunken teenagers leaving a nightclub. Wonderfully balanced!
Gerard Gardener, London
Since no pubs have applied for a 24hr licence, what difference does it make whether you throw everyone out at 11pm or 1am?
James McEnaney, Glasgow, Scotland
Perhaps the focus should not be on the open hours of local bars but directed to enforcing schemes such as 'pub watch' where the few trouble makers are banned from all surrounding bars. At the end of the day people will still find a way to drink and cause trouble.
Matthew Bentley, Gerrards Cross, England
I am an Englishwoman currently studying in Canada, and contrasting the two systems, I have to say that I agree that longer opening hours will improve things in the long run. My main point, though, is to do with the opening hours of other establishments: in Canada, if my friends and I want to meet up for a late night study break, or go out after the cinema, we can go to a cafe, and chat over hot chocolate and cake if we so choose - many are open till midnight. We need to change the idea that the only thing to do in the evening for a date or with friends is drink. Apart from anything else, a nice cup of tea is a lot cheaper. As an ex binge drinker and occasional crazy partier, I think having an option of venue makes all the difference.
Lisa, Oxford, U.K./ Montreal, Canada
Will they next be introducing lessons in schools to teach kids how to drink responsibly? This idea is as ever, ill conceived, ludicrous and just the next step in totalling destroying this country.
The already stretched Police resources will result in there being no officers left to deal with anymore drunken yobs by the time morning comes, especially at the weekends. In line with health campaigns about the dangers of smoking, a similar education process is urgently required for the dangers of alcohol with a view to curbing the binge-drinking culture.
Jeff Norman, Cardiff Wales
There will of course be a 'novelty period' when a minority will try to drink for as long as they can, something which they can only do abroad at the moment - hence the English tourist reputation. Once the novelty has passed, drinkers will revert back to patterns suitable to their lifestyle. Was there really this much fuss back when pubs were granted permission to open 11am-11pm without the few hours closure in the afternoon? All day drinking...heaven forbid!
Jamie, Luton, England
I have always found the licensing laws abhorrent. If people are treated like children then they will act accordingly. The sooner we grow up and join the civilised world, the better. Perhaps some period of adjustment will be needed, but in the long-term this overdue change in the law will be a good thing. Is Britain a communist state or one that treats its citizens with respect, like most civilised countries?
Strongly disagree with the judges. No evidence from other countries that flexible drinking has caused problems - the reverse is more likely.
John Dickinson, Chesterfield
It is legal to drink alcohol in the home, under parental supervision, from the age of 5. One of my best friends regularly drank with her parents at home and by her late teens did not exhibit the same 'novelty' factor her friends did with alcohol. That can only be a good thing.
Rich, Sheffield, UK
Whilst 24 hour drinking will initially lead to an increase in problems already associated with the British pub/club culture, I do feel that in years to come these problems will decrease. This law is about changing attitudes towards drinking over a long period of time. This law will benefit generations to come.
Paul Richards, Tewkesbury, England
Reading this article I had to laugh; the usual hysteria that has always accompanied any change in this country. It seems to me that our government is at last trying to treat us as adults and we should be thankful for that.
James T, London
It was partly the growing unpleasantness of drink-induced yobbism and lack of respect that persuaded me to leave the UK and settle here in Riga. The local people for the greater part over here have self-respect and respect for others which controls their behaviour so that drunkenness and bad behaviour is rarely seen in the city centre apart from when the stag parties arrive from the UK each weekend. Then the whole feel of the town changes for two days until they go back to England again. This problem is escalating but even at its worst Riga, for me, is a far nicer place to spend an evening than any town in England.
Timothy, Riga, Latvia
Will the media stop reporting that 24 hour drinking is about to start in England. If you look at the facts most pubs will open for an hour or two longer at the weekend. This will not lead to the end of civilisation. In Scotland this has been the norm for decades. I never saw so many drunken people at 9pm until I moved from Edinburgh to Birmingham. Give it a couple of months and the hype will die down and we can move towards a new attitude for drinking in the UK.
Calum Sharp, Birmingham
What we need is an old fashioned economic recession for a year or so. Too many people have too much money in their pockets to fritter away, jobs are easy top find and even if you go in with a hangover and under perform it is hard to get sacked. There are too many bars and clubs so they have to drop the prices to get business and encourage customers to drink till they can't move to another one. Roll on the recession to bring back some sanity.
I think that people in this country drink to get drunk. There isn't that big a rush at last orders where I live, it's pretty constant throughout the night. Most people who cause trouble tend to go to clubs to continue drinking anyway, and would cause trouble whenever they leave. It's this attitude that needs to be tackled not closing times.
Laurence, Luton, UK
Having emigrated to Austria, a country in which there are no licensing laws and very little drink-related behaviour I can see little evidence for the association of longer licensing hours and violence. The argument just doesn't hold water. There are other reasons why there are problems in England but it's all too easy to blame alcohol so they do it.
Niklas Marshal-Blank, Linz, Austria
I think that 24 hour licensing is a good idea, for the simple reason that people will no longer feel obliged to cram as many pints in as they can before closing. If you went out at 8pm you would have only three hours to drink in so there would always be a sense of urgency and this leads to stupid drinking. I think that relaxing the laws will lead to more responsible drinking and less trouble as people would come out at different times of the night. It can only lead to less violence I would have thought.
David Crook, Bournemouth, UK
I see no comments from the shift workers in this country. When you finish a night shift at 0600 you want to go to the pub as much as a day shift worker at 1800 does. And as soon as the juvenile and chavs realise that think drinking till you fall over is not the done thing the better. There should only be one night of your life when you go out and get so drunk that you cannot remember what you did and that is your 18th birthday.
Mark, London UK
If you can get a drink whenever you want, it will remove the specialness of Friday/Saturday nights and the late opening, you'll get away from the idea of needing to go out and get trashed every weekend. This should reduce binge drinking over time and also change Brits abroad.
Having spent the last 20 years supervising and writing court reports on young offenders I fully agree with the judge's remarks. I can't remember any cases I dealt with in the 80's with under 16 year-old's where drink was a direct contributor to the offence. Now this is the case in half my case-load. I have 14 year-olds (male and female) who go out each Friday and Saturday and get completely drunk seeing this as normal behaviour.
Sue, West Yorks
Of course they will. It is unbelievably naïve to think it will reduce the number of people drinking. Yobs will just go out more often now. The other night I was on my way home from work to be attacked by what looked like a 14 year old, completely out of his head. Raise the age to 21 like America with stricter penalties for offences. I don't want to be scared out of the town centre by alcoholics. All the Government are thinking about is the revenue taken in from all the extra pints sold.
Chris C, Hastings, England
The government ultimately created our binge drinking culture by enforcing the licensing laws during one of the World Wars. We rush home from work, eat, go to the pub and then we're left with a couple of hours to drink, so we throw the pints down as fast as we can before closing time. Compare this with the rest of Europe. Slow, responsible social drinking that goes on to 6am or even later.
Rob Ford, Fleet, Hants
I live in Santiago, where there is a large British community. Even though pubs here are open till the early hours of the morning, it's mainly the Brits that are drunk at 8pm, due to large intake in a few hours after work. So here they have all the time they want, and are still in a hurry to get drunk. It's a cultural thing I guess.
Edwin, Santiago, Chile
Our city is already a no go area at weekend evenings, the extension of hours is madness and can only be to the benefit of the leisure lobby.
June Walsh, Nottingham, England
Extending licensing hours is crazy. One doesn't even have to look abroad to see the effects: simply take a trip through city centres in most of Scotland after about 9pm - they have become virtual no-go areas due to the amount of drunk and disorderly behaviour. By having 24-hour drinking the government effectively encourages even more violence and problems on our already dangerous streets at night. Those who don't drink feel marginalised by aggressive behaviour.
MEJ Phillips, Aberdeen, Scotland
I am a police officer and have spent many a time outside pubs controlling fights and dealing with people who have been assaulted. I believe that pubs should be allowed to open later, but not 24 hours. This could put a massive strain on the NHS, police and ambulance services. I think the government should concentrate on existing laws and impose stricter fines for pubs who serve underage people or people who have clearly had too much to drink. Licensees should be held more accountable, and literature be made available for people who may have an addiction or health problem related to drink. Pubs should also have more non-smoking areas.
Rhian Millington, Harrow, London
I am an ex-pat now living in the US. As others here have commented the UK is a boozing nation I really only grasped this after seeing people here in Philadelphia. The government in the UK should have used a gradual phased approach, not the sudden dramatic change that they are planning. This would have enabled pubs to close an hour later on a year-by-year basis. I recall the city of London (where I worked for 20 years) being the lunchtime boozing capital of the world, it is almost unheard of here to drink at lunchtime when working.
Hugh Gleaves, Philadelphia, USA
Less regulation of drinking times should be balanced by tighter regulation of the drinks trade. At the moment, getting a pub, bar or club closed down is impossibly difficult and slow and expensive. It should be made much easier. Bad behaviour associated with a drinks outlet should be an immediate threat to profits, and management should fear it.
The real problem currently is that bars and pubs are happy to sell you a beer at 11:15 and then employ aggressive security who then take it off you and forcibly eject folk into the street at 11:20. The legislation should have stipulated that no matter what time the bar closes it has to stop serving an hour before.
Currently people rush to get as many drinks in as possible before last orders. If people don't have to worry about that anymore they will simply drink at a normal pace and go home when they feel like it. What's wrong with that?
I am Mexican student in the UK and I've never seen so many drunk people in my life as here in Britain. In my country pubs and clubs are open 24 hours, and I never saw anything close to what I've experienced here. I believe the rush to finish drinking before closing time is the main factor that drives binge drinking in this country.
Jesus Garza, Monterrey, Mexico
I believe that although we won't have the 'kick out' time where everyone ends up on the streets and in the takeaways at once, 24 hour drinking won't change the British style of drinking to get drunk - we have pubs not cafes. I think the 24 hour drinking is good but it's being viewed as a solution when it's not a solution but a change that needs deep support from all affected including public transport and policing
Terry Birch, Chelmsford Essex
While rural pubs stay open longer, who has to put up with the additional aggravation? Local residents, that's who. It is an ill-conceived idea that will do nothing to reduce binge-drinking or combat this country's yob culture.
Chris Warwick, Ascot, Berkshire
Before you change the laws, you have to change the British attitude towards alcohol. Here, it is seen as normal to go out on Friday and Saturday evenings and get drunk till you drop. In many European countries, this is seen as irresponsible and shameful, maybe the sort of thing you do once in a while, but it is definitely not the norm. You can have as many laws as you want, as long as British people won't understand that you don't need to be drunk to have a good time, the situation won't improve
Why not extend the hours in which alcohol can be purchased in off licences? That way people who want to drink themselves to death can at least do it in the comfort of there own home, and out of public view.
Jim, Sheffield, UK
Of course things will get worse before they get better. But we have to take the long term view and treat adults as adults. Imagine a hundred years from now, still being told when we can - and cannot - enjoy an alcoholic drink. Hardly a sign of a progressive society. It's worth the little bit of pain, it really is.
Stuart Jones, Surbiton, UK
In Scotland we have had 24 hours drinking for years. Drink related crimes have fallen because people don't try and drink 10 pints in 2 hours like they do in England. I think the real question you need to ask is why do people want to binge drink? It's okay when you are young and foolish but in your late twenties it's a bit silly and very sad.
Peter Burns, Livingston
Why is there so much focus is on the mindless minority? Everyone seems to forget the peaceful majority who like to drink, never fight and will welcome the extra flexibility. We are not all yobs!
Daniel, Sheffield, UK
The yob culture will not stop drinking until they are denied drink. How about a few well-publicized cases of landlords being prosecuted for serving people who are visibly drunk and being given huge fines? Extending drinking hours while the yob culture is still common shows just how far this government is removed from reality.
Fiona, Insch, Scotland
Why is it once again all the focus is on the mindless minority? Everyone seems to forget the peaceful majority, who like to drink, never fight and will welcome the extra flexibility. We are not all yobs!
Daniel, Sheffield, UK
I lived in Edinburgh as a student and was used to rushing to the bar at closing as I am from Birmingham. However, there were more relaxed laws with longer opening hours and I saw very little trouble in the 4 years I was there. We regularly went out later and finished later but were responsible as we did not need to finish drinking at 11. I regularly spoke to friends who stayed in England who had been and gone out whilst we were still getting ready. Stagger closing times but introduce a last door policy so people cannot follow the late night licenses.
I think in the short-run, violent crime may increase slightly, but in the long-run it will subside. The issue here is education and not the policy. Liberty can only be good with an intelligent populace that does not choose to be bingers.
John Chaplain, Glasgow, Scotland
At last, I won't have to go out of a nice quiet pub where we sitting drinking and chatting then into a nightclub where the drinks are 5 times the price and you cant hear yourself talk. Or failing that when people don't want to go to a club it will stop the power drinking in the last hour before the bar closes! Great idea.
Ken Maginnis, Cambridge
This kind of typical scaremongering from the largely conservative judiciary is not exactly unexpected - but I wonder once they have been proved wrong how many will be prepared to stick their necks out and admit it. Increases in violence and problems due to drinking are mainly related to the continuing reduction of police funding and resources in favour of 'big brother' initiatives such as CCTV which have been proved not to work.
Phil M, Wolverhampton, UK
I think it's a good idea. The relaxed European drinking laws don't create a problem, so why should it for us? Maybe we should be wary of nightclub owners who potentially may lose out to late night bars.
Why not have Dutch-style coffee shops instead, then you can have a good night out without the liver damage or violence.
I work in a pub and can't see how this will help, British culture involves drinking until we fall over, or get knocked over. It is drinking habits that need to be changed, not licensing hours.
Tim New, Southampton, UK
The judges, in making this comment, have shown more irresponsibility and ignorance than I thought possible! As judges shouldn't they wait until passing judgement on the possible outcome of this initiative? They are unhelpfully joining a part of our culture which is breeding fear and dissent where it isn't needed. So unnecessary.
David Fulker, Reading, UK
This is like saying that there will be less accidents and motoring offences if the roads are only open from 0900 to 1700. Surely, in that case, people will still want to use them just as much but they will drive faster and all do it at the same time. I don't believe that there will be more drinks consumed, just the same number over a longer period ultimately reducing bottlenecks. The biggest losers in this will be the employers of bar staff who should see the same amount of money spent over a longer period therefore increased staff costs for the same revenue.
Tony Willoughby, Stockport, Cheshire
To prevent the youth of today abusing alcohol by binge drinking the simple answer is to raise the legal age to 25-years-old. Hopefully by then young people are mature enough to treat alcohol and the problems it can cause with the respect needed.
Richard Jones, Birmingham, England
The judges are wrong. People aren't going to be drinking anymore than they are at the moment. Nobody is suddenly going to get more money from somewhere to buy more beer, all extending the hours will do is spread out the drinking and the number of people drinking at the same time. All incidents are caused at busy times this will reduce that. Undoubtedly there will be a some settling in time at the start.
Brian Cumming, Bedford
Things will calm down after an increase in drinking to begin with. I see the report by the Association of Chief Police Officers said it will lead to holiday-style drinking but people stay in a resort for a short time, so they save up and take full advantage of the late hours and cheap drink. Similarly, once the novelty has worn off people will realise they can't drink all night every night. People will take advantage to begin with but will realise their pockets and livers can't take it!
Alistair , London
The Spanish, French etc also drink as much as the British but when you have all night to do it, the drinking session is not as bad as having four pints in the last half hour before closing time - that is the difference.
The extra drink will have the opposite effect. Drinkers will be more relaxed, not having to rush to the bar at last orders. The beers then will be consumed gradually, leading to a more sedate and calm atmosphere. With no rush, there is no need to get annoyed!
Geoff, Oxford, UK
Considering the existing violence at pub/club closing time I can only see the situation worsening. Definitely a recipe for disaster.
Keith Hazzard, Bournemouth, Dorset
There will undoubtedly be a slight upsurge in trouble as people experiment with 24 hour drinking but before long the novelty will have worn off and we should be able to experience a more responsible attitude to longer hours.
Mike Claridge, Bristol
Bad idea, there is no need to offer 24 hour licences, perhaps an extended 12 hour licence but 24 hours will just encourage alcoholism. Alcohol is already a dangerous but "legal" substance which is readily abused by many. If there are increases in crime, how are the government going to handle that in light of recent terror alerts? This government does not have the best interests of its people in mind.
Suki , Southall, Middlesex
I seem to remember similar predictions of the end of civilised society when the Tories allowed pubs to stay open all afternoon.
Alan, Bristol, UK
I think the judges once again are wrong. It is about time we changed their laws which are lax. With people able to drink when they want, you will have a spread of people drinking and leaving at different times, helping the police. You will not have the thousands of drinkers leaving the pubs at 11 o'clock to then go to the clubs and again at 2 o'clock thousands again coming out of the clubs. This is a good thing not a bad, binge drinkers would do the same even if the pubs opened for an hour.
Penny Coleman, Cardiff
Where are the statistics and data to back up these arguments (on either side)? The British have an unfortunate relationship with alcohol and it's about managing this culture in the most effective way for society. I can come up with arguments why relaxed laws would be a good or a bad thing - lets have some facts.
There are plenty of models in Europe where lax licensing laws do not create a drunken free-for-all at 11pm. It's yob culture that causes the problems. I know lots of people who drink socially, regularly and in large quantities. None have been in a fight.
The reason youngsters go crazy the first time they have drink is because they have waited 18 years for it. In France, Germany, Italy, Spain the problem of binge-drinking is virtually non-existent. I believe that children should be able to drink moderate amounts of drink under parental supervision from 14-15 years. This attitude works well in Europe but we seem to ignore it.
Simon Spencer-lish, Chobham Surrey
As a responsible drinker I have no objections to 24 hour opening and I enjoy the freedom in Europe. However, I blame the judges and magistrates for the current situation. When the police do catch these hooligans the courts are so lenient that they in effect get away with their crimes. Put the fear back into punishment!
Nigel Godfrey, Solihull, England
How can Judge Harris put the blame on upbringing for binge-drinkers who fight in the streets when he is part of the problem? Judges nearly always award mothers main residency of children in divorce, thus leaving children without a father's influence.
Ben, Kintbury, Berks, UK
I firmly believe relaxing the current drinking times; will stop the trend, of drinking as much as possible within a short period of time until the pubs/clubs close. This will allow a more varied time for people to drink when it suits them. This will also eliminate the mass exodus of people from the licensed premises at one given time, resulting in fewer people on the street, drunk. This should ease the pressure of police at peak times.
Given that people drink to get drunk, it doesn't matter if they're given an hour or twenty four. It's in society now, and society has to deal with it.
Paul, Bracknell, UK
People are likely to continue their drinking patterns into the later hours available to them initially, but after this short period of mayhem I think we will all benefit from an improved drinking culture. Otherwise people will need to find a second job to support their increased intake of already expensive alcohol.
For too many people in this country there is no such concept of 'enough', and this will give them free reign to drink even more than now. With this, will go the drink-fuelled violence and anti-social behaviour we all witness in any city or town centre any Friday or Saturday night. We are not continentals. It's too cold to sit outside a pavement cafe sipping wine at two in the morning.
Jim, Birmingham, UK
Why on earth would someone want to go for a drink at 4 in the morning? Many shift workers would probably come the reply, but there is no transport infrastructure at that time in the morning, so what do they do? Drive?
Given that English youths are totally unable to behave with any restraint, it will obviously lead to an increase in crime. This law should be suspended until we have control of our streets again.
Is the right-wing media exaggerating the problem of binge-drinking for political ends?
The theory of staggering the leaving time of drinkers is fine on the face of it, but it doesn't take a genius to realise that the hardcore drinkers will simply gravitate to the bar with the latest closing time, resulting in large numbers of people leaving the same bar at the same time having had even more to drink. When the mindless masses seem to genuinely believe they are somehow "forced" to drink as much as they can before 11pm the same mindless masses will likewise be "forced" to drink what they can before midnight. The result for people living near pubs will simply be the same or higher levels of noise and antisocial behaviour but occurring later at night. Another example of badly planned and badly thought out legislation from ministers who don't have to live with the consequences.
John B, UK
In the short term I would expect a rise in drink related problems - it will take time to adjust. In the long term I see no reason why there should be a problem. Other European countries don't have a problem with it! I spend quite a lot of time in Spain, the only people who get drunk are those from countries with enforced drinking time limits who have a mentality of "get as much in as you can before they close". Those who know you can always get a drink act with more responsibility.
Terry, Epsom, Surrey, England
Without doubt. The government hope that drinkers will be moderate in their intake is laughable. Why do they seem intent on ruining the lives of the decent majority, for whom a night's entertainment doesn't include getting mindlessly drunk and hitting someone? Sadly the problem isn't confined to large towns; here in Rye we have a hardcore of young excessive drinkers who cause trouble just about every Friday and Saturday night. We will doubtless suffer more broken windows and abuse as a result of this ill-conceived attempt to raise more revenue from drinkers. This legislation obsessed government should introduce the ASLO, not just the ASBO. (That's the Anti Social Legislation Order).
Michael Scott, Rye, East Sussex